Keep Stepping to Master the Challenges of Change

by Joy Marsden

Influential change advocate, Joy Marsden, shares her philosophy on the importance of stepping up and stepping out for leaders of today.


What behaviors do you need to adopt to grow and achieve success in a fast moving ever changing environment, where the people you lead are facing challenges month after month?


Recovering quickly from unexpected change is what separates the expert from the novice. The novice seeks to force new experiences into existing frameworks, confuses luck with personal skill, and relies on routine when a situation changes from simple and stable to complex and challenging.

By contrast, the expert never takes success personally, is always aware of their personal and technical limitations, and uses change as an opportunity to review, improve and innovate.  Whist the novice strives for stability; the expert accepts instability as the only status quo.

Overall, expertise means that we are capable of leading through change with an open mind and resilient attitude.  It means we ‘Keep Stepping!’.  The philosophy behind the Keep Stepping principles don’t just provide a superficial blue print for success but focuses on something more realistic.  When change comes, planned or unplanned, in any area of life, it is going to be difficult.  For the novice, this difficulty means clinging onto routine for comfort.  For the expert, this difficulty means a chance to innovate, to improve. Experts don’t stay still, they Keep Stepping.  So how do you become an expert in personal leadership?

Being the best means engineering the steps that you take in order to become all that you can be.  In order to do this, you’re going to need to ‘Step Up’, ‘Step Out’ and ‘Stand Out’ at different stages of your day, week and year.  It’s a never ending process, but a fulfilling process if you’re prepared to take the steps necessary for success.

As a leader, it’s up to you to make sure that you not only achieve your very best, but that you inspire the people you lead to achieve their very best too. The way you carry yourself, the person that you are, speaks volumes.

Do your employees see you as someone that inspires them? Or are you someone they simply work for that pays the wage at the end of the week.

I’m privileged to use the Keep Stepping program to help leaders and their teams throughout the globe to develop key skills that allow them to be more authentic in the office and at home and to enjoy their daily routines more.

The result, happier workers serving happier customers as they serve them better and see obstacles as opportunities.  This makes for a vibrant working environment where respect, honor and integrity are just a few of the values that start to shine through in the workplace.


Here are some steps from the Keep Stepping program for leadership success:


The way you see someone affects the way you serve them, and the way you serve someone affects the way they see you.  Serve your employees and your customers in the best possible way.



Simple, but not always easy to do, especially when you don’t even like the person you’re dealing with.  Here’s the thing, people respond to the person you are and the way you interact with them way before they respond to what you can do for them.



Make sure you understand what’s really going on. Do you get home from work and completely zone out? You’re in relax mode but not tuned in to the needs of the family?  This is a situation we can often look back and recognize quite quickly in a home situation, but do you notice when you haven’t tuned in at work? Are you missing important conversations, reactions, team dynamics that are essential for getting things done.



When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort circle and learnt something new?  Moments like these are essential for our growth and development.  This is often where the best creative ideas are born. The stretch is where great things happen.



A skilled carpenter gathers tools for his toolbox over time.  Time after time he has to draw on that experience and will use specific tools for specific jobs. How many of these skills do you use? It a wonderful thing when managers learn to draw out all the skills of their employees, when this happens, they will be leading a more fulfilled workforce for sure.


Keep Stepping!® is helping employees to do the things that matter most and make a positive difference both in their professional and personal life.


About the Author

Joy Marsden is an internationally recognized leadership expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader, with extensive experience in working with leaders and their teams.

Joy is the author of Keep Stepping! Essential ways to lead yourself and others through challenge and change (Stepping Books, 2015). A leadership ambassador for the Chartered Management Institute, a Fellow of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management, a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association and Regional President in Staffordshire.

Why Do Managers Lead with Fear?

By: Peter Stark


I am currently working with a manager who told his team, “If this campaign isn’t perfect when we launch, some of you will be looking for a new job.” Yikes. That’s almost as inspiring as telling your team, “Terminations will continue until morale improves.” Although the manager didn’t share his threat with us, several of his employees did.

The Big Question Is…

Why would a manager feel the need to manage with fear? It’s tough to get a manager relying on fear to self-examine and admit this, but in most cases this strategy results from the manager projecting their own lack of confidence and fear. When these managers lack confidence and are fearful of potentially failing, they may not even realize that they are projecting their own fear onto others.

When team members operate in fear and focus solely on survival, they no longer have their primary focus set on executing the mission and making decisions that are in the best interest of the organization. Even worse, great employees seldom stick around a fearsome leader. Employees who produce stellar results earn reputations that put them in high demand by other manager and organization, and they won’t hesitate to leave for an organization with a healthier culture.


In addition to his threatening words, this manager exhibited several other characteristics that helped solidify the culture of fear he had created.

Blamed others, but claimed the credit. When things went wrong, this manager was quick to blame his own team members or team members in other departments. When things went well, however, he would immediately point out all the things he had done to make the outcome successful.

Trash talked. This manager had a habit of talking poorly about almost everyone in the organization. This left anyone who ever interacted with him wondering, “What does he say about me behind my back?”

Used threats. When this manager told his team they might be looking for new jobs if their next campaign was not successful, this manager conveyed to team members that they were not qualified for their jobs. By using threats, he also made it clear that mistakes were not acceptable.

Withheld praise. For whatever reason, this manager did not acknowledge the excellent work often done by his team members.

Withheld information. This manager chose to communicate with employees strictly on a “need to know” basis. Very few team members had all the pieces of the puzzle, which made it difficult for them to make decisions. With a lack of honest, direct and timely communication, everyone wants to play it safe for fear of making a bad decision.

Didn’t delegate. Because he didn’t trust his team to get the job done the way he would do it, he spent his time on day-to-day operational tasks instead of working on strategic projects that would have the greatest impact on the team and organization.

Can a manager known for leading with fear change their negative reputation? The good news is that with a significant change in their leadership style, yes, they can. The bad news is that is takes consistent repetition of positive leadership behaviors over a long period of time to earn a more positive reputation.




The following 7 actions were ones I recommended to help this leader build a positive reputation and take his leadership skills to a higher level.



Collect feedback to better understand your strengths as a leader and where you have opportunities for development. This will help you craft a leadership style that will maximize the number of people who are highly engaged and love coming to work to help you and your team succeed.


Most people want to work for a manager with a positive vision of their organization’s future. Employees want to know what goals will turn that vision into a reality, and what they are contributing to the realization of the vision.


Goals are all about “I think we can.” When you take action and accomplish your goals, you develop confidence because you feel you are in control and have mastery over your organizational life.


When things go wrong, great leaders are quick to take responsibility for ensuring that the problem is fixed and doesn’t happen a second time. Great leaders may not say they are personally to blame for the problem, but they are quick to say, “I take full responsibility for ensuring this doesn’t happen again.”


Almost everyone has a high need to be valued and appreciated for their contributions. Great leaders know that providing people with recognition for their successful contributions is a significant part of building strong relationships with employees.


Hold quarterly meetings with each of your direct reports to review their goals and to determine what they are working on to help them grow and develop. This will most likely mean that you are encouraging your team members to be willing to take a risk. Encouraging risk is also encouraging people to be comfortable with the sometimes-scary possibility of failure. Taking a risk, however, is the polar opposite of paralysis by fear.


Trusting others and being able to appropriately delegate is the key to your next promotion. Communicate the desired result, and then put the appropriate safeguards in place to follow up and ensure its success.


Managers who lead with a strategy of fear may be feared, but they will never be respected. When a manager utilizes fear as their strategy, I can guarantee one thing will happen: team members will eventually band together to undermine their manager. In the military and law enforcement, we call this getting hit by friendly fire. These seven tips, when put into action and consistently practice over long period of time, will help you be the leader who instead earns a strong reputation for building a culture of trust and the ability to produce significant results.




About the Author

Peter B. Stark, CSP, AS, is the President of Peter Barron Stark Companies. He and his team partner with clients to build organizations where employees love to come to work. Peter and his team are experts in employee engagement surveys, leadership and employee development, team building, and executive coaching.

Would You Hire You? 10 Ways to Add Value to Your Position

By: Doug Sandler

Ask yourself this question and have the courage to give an honest answer: Would you hire you? If words like passionate, excited, motivated and inspired describe you, you probably will get the gig. If, however, you are struggling to find the right words that fit or more importantly, if you are saying to yourself, “I would be positive, passionate, motivated and inspired by my work, but…(fill in the blank),” chances are good you wouldn’t get a call back or a second interview for the position. Excuses will not help boost your value, only action will.

Here are 10 questions that will help determine your value at work:

Do you contribute to a positive office culture or does your attitude at work fan the flame of average? The overall profitability of the company you work for is attributed to the culture created within that organization. Companies like Zappos, Wegmans, Apple, Nordstrom and dozens more are household words because of the amazing culture created by the people that work there. You have within you the ability to be better than average. Make sure you prove it to yourself and add to your value.

Do your efforts take the customer experience to the next level up or does the effort elevator not quite make it to your floor? If you haven’t already realized it, your effort is felt by everyone around you, not just your company’s customers. Everyone you come in contact with is your customer and they all need you to be positive. Your value at work is directly related to the contributions you make to your company.

Can you add problem solver to your resume or do you prefer to hand issues to someone else in your office? You don’t need to be an investigator like Sherlock Holmes or as smart as Einstein, but contributing to problem resolution or supporting someone trying to solve a problem will add value to your role. It’s valuable to be a part of the solution. Under no circumstances do you want to be a part of the problem.

Do you go the extra mile for your company or do you take shortcuts as you find them? Creating system improvements and working to provide exemplary service are qualified as going the extra mile. However, creating a shortcut that potentially can lead to less than stellar performance grades will diminish your value. Change for the sake of change will not add to your value.

Would you describe yourself as an influencer or someone that is influenced? You do not need to be assigned to a management position in order to be considered an influencer. If you are well respected in the workplace, you are boosting your value.

Does the idea of creating a new and improved system inspire you to look for ways to streamline your work process or would you prefer leaving systems in place? Making simple systems improvements or providing suggestions to make a process easier proves you are not just doing your job but actually thinking about the bigger picture. Creative thinking improves your value.

Are you a good listener or are you at the office water cooler adding to the rumor mill? A good listener knows that he doesn’t know everything but wants to learn from someone more wise and with more experience on the job. Seek out a mentor where you work. Knowledge is power and will contribute to your value. Water cooler conversation and gossip contributes to negative office politics and should be avoided.

When a team is needed to accomplish a task would you describe yourself as a volunteer or a captive participant? Teamwork, partnerships and cooperative effort involves building relationships. Great relationships equal better business. Whether you own your own business or work for a large organization, you should look for opportunities to work on a team. Teamwork sparks creative thinking. If you find yourself in a position to accomplish a task as a part of a team, don’t shy away from role.

Do projects, customers, vendors, phone calls and emails slow you down from doing your job or are they a part of your job? Do not live in a vacuum at work. Remember that communication is a part of your job. In order for your company to exist, these relationships are essential. Each opportunity to communicate with your customers and vendors/suppliers is a chance to strengthen your brand. Lean into these unscheduled moments to gain trust and add value to your position and your company.

Do you have a bright light passion for what you are building or do you see passion as something only dreamers dream about? Increase your value by being more kind than you need to be, friendlier than others expect you to be and put your heart out there for others to see even more than you already do now.

Embrace the role you play at work and don’t just go through the motions. Honestly, anyone can be average. Average offers no value. Being average is not a stepping stone to anything other than mediocrity. Being average will never amount to happiness, it will only amount to getting by. Have the strength to set your sights on your bigger goals and be passionate about the contribution you make at work. Passion adds value. Have the courage to dream bigger and to be passionate about the responsibilities you have at work.

About the Author

Doug Sandler has over 30 years of business experience as an entrepreneur and leader. His book, Nice Guys Finish First is a #1 ranked Amazon Best Seller.  As a podcaster, Doug has interviewed Arianna Huffington from HuffPost, Dan Harris from Good Morning America, Ron Klain, White House Chief of Staff and dozens of celebs. He specializes in teaching others the “how-to’s” of building relationships and strengthening connections. Doug is a nationally recognized speaker and writer.  His weekly posts reach hundreds of thousands of readers. Doug has been titled by a leading social media marketing company in the top 100 of Social Media Thought Influencers to follow.

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

By Dr. Tony Alessandra

Question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time!

Successful people break large tasks into smaller ones.

I use the word chunking to describe this process. For instance, when I landed a contract to write my first book, Non-Manipulative Selling, I had six months to write it. On my “To Do” list every day of those six months was: Write book.

Six months went by, no book. The publisher gave me another three months. For three more months Write book appeared daily on my “To Do” list. Still… no book. Finally, the publisher gave me a final three months or else I would lose the contract and have to return the advance.

Fortunately, a colleague gave me the concept of “chunking.” He asked me how many pages I had to write. Answer: 180. How many days to write it? Answer: 90. He told me that every day my “To Do” list should say: Write 2 pages of book. I must write two pages. If I got on a roll, I could write four or five. However, the next day, I still had to write a minimum of two. By following his advice, I finished the book in thirty days!

A final technique for managing your goals comes from Dr. John Lee, time management expert. He says when a task pops up, apply one of the four D’s: Drop it, Delegate it, Delay it, or Do it. Consciously choosing one of those strategies every time you face a task will keep things progressing smoothly.

Platinum Rule® Strategies for Self-improvement:

High ‘D’ styles are great at “doing” and “delegating”, but could improve on how to delegate. They need to take time to explain each task, realize that others will take longer to start and finish than they would, and not forget to say “please” and “thank you.” A little kindness and praise goes a long way to getting others to want to help you.

High ‘I’ styles are great at starting big projects, but struggle to finish many of them. They need to focus on accomplishing the small steps each day. They thrive on small pats on the back. They need to continually remind themselves (through positive affirmations) that they are becoming more focused and more productive each day.

High ‘S’ styles are very persistent people. They stick with projects until completion. However, they need to work on their confidence by soliciting less feedback during the process and presenting larger chunks of work for approval.

High ‘C’ styles are great at perfecting projects, but they sometimes get lost in the details. Remember: 95% correct (and out the door) beats “perfect every time” but late. They need to find someone else to “perfect” their work and learn to finish sooner.

Why Customer Service Training Is the Ultimate Differentiator


By: Adam Toporek

We live in a world of incredibly sophisticated tools and techniques for designing customer experiences. Comprehensive big data, detailed customer personas, and extensive customer journey maps are just some of the tools organizations use to imagine and create best-in-class customer experiences.

Yet, too much of the work done in the C-Suite doesn’t translate to the front lines, creating a gap between design and execution.

Good customer journeys too often go bad.

For many B2C organizations, the failure is human; team members simply do not deliver the experience as designed or are unable to adapt when the customer’s experience deviates from the expected journey.

What separates the best-in-class customer experience companies from the rest are culture and training.

Why Training Matters

The real world that frontline teams experience is messy and difficult. From broken systems to irate customers, frontline reps have to navigate a wide variety of emotional, organizational, and psychological challenges.

Most customer service training deals with technique not emotion, with systems not psychology; yet, what frontline reps struggle with is the mentality of service — understanding their own outlooks and attitudes and coming to grips with the psychological mechanisms that cause customers to act the way they do.

Even the best frontline team members are not designed to be successful at reactive service, to say and do the right things when the going gets tough.

On the front lines of service, training is what separates the average Joes from the superheroes.

Tips for Effective Training

There is an old expression: “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” The message being that if you practice the wrong things, you will not get the desired results.

Too much customer service training is focused on the perfect journey, on “here’s what to do when everything goes right.” But effective training should address the challenges that frontline teams face in the real world, the “what if” scenarios that derail frontline team members and throw customer experiences off track.

Here are three key areas that you can center your training around:

·     Delivering Effective Communication — How much of a customer’s experience centers on communication and yet how little focus does this crucial aspect of service get in most training? Communication training should focus on key areas like first impressions and greetings, delivering key experiential moments, and handling difficult situations. Communication training should incorporate key phrases, power words, and, whenever possible, real-world simulation through role play.

·     Creating Painless Transfers — In Be Your Customer’s Hero, we discuss the 7 Service Triggers that are hot buttons for customers today. One of the most important service triggers is being shuffled, which refers to the hassle and stress of being transferred repeatedly to resolve an issue. Transfer training should focus on how to minimize the number of transfers through better routing and empowerment and how to eliminate the stress associated with transfers through techniques like warm transferring and assuring accountability.

·     Anticipating Expected Issues — While customer issues are never completely predictable, organizations can find patterns in the most common service issues. In my customer service keynote speeches, I often advise applying Pareto (or 80/20) analysis to identify the few challenges that make up the majority of service issues. By training for these expected issues, teams will not only be able to navigate them more effectively but will also learn key principles that they can apply to other situations they face.

The above tips are but a few of the many customer service training ideas you can implement to make your team’s customer service skill set Hero-Class®.

Differentiate Through Training

To set your organization apart from its competitors, begin by designing a heroic, best-in-class journey and then create a robust training program to help make sure that journey is consistently well-executed.

Many organizations create excellent customer journeys that succeed on a piece of paper or a computer screen but are never fully realized for customers in actual practice.

In a world where sophisticated customer experience design tools are available to almost everyone, it is execution that wins the day and training that separates good service from great.

In customer service, training is the ultimate differentiator.

About the Author

Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. As a 3rd-generation entrepreneur with extensive experience in retail and franchising, Adam brings a unique lens to organizations that need to train their frontline teams to deliver Hero-Class® experiences to customers.

Adam is the author of Be Your Customer’s Hero: Real- World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (AMACOM, 2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog.

From Huffington Post to Entrepreneur, Adam has appeared or been cited in nearly 100 different media outlets, including podcasts, radio, and television.

Adam has an MBA, a Certificate in Customer Experience from the Center for Services Leadership, and is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate. When he’s not speaking or delivering high energy customer service workshops, he can be found co-hosting the Crack the Customer Code podcast and writing extensively about customer experience and customer service.


Email Should Lead the Pack on All-in-One Marketing Platforms

By: Ryan Phelan, Vice President of Marketing Insights, Adestra Inc.

At a recent conference, I talked with a marketer whose company sends marketing emails through an all-in-one platform.

“Why do you do that?” I asked.

“Because it’s part of the marketing automation package we bought,” he replied. “It’s all part of one platform.”

“Is it doing what you need?” said I.

“No, but it’s all connected, so I have to use it,” he answered.

I’ve had this conversation many times before thanks to a trend among companies to consolidate their marketing services through an all-in-one platform for email marketing, lead nurturing, B2B or B2C marketing.

I can understand the appeal of having one dashboard to manage instead of five or six – one platform to rule them all, so to speak. I use a brand-name platform myself for lead management and nurturing, but I stick with Adestra for my email needs because the platform’s email module doesn’t have the deliverability management, reporting and ease of use that I love about Adestra. It also integrates just fine with my platform. So, it’s a win-win for me.

Marketers tell me they look at single-platform providers because they need to work with tools that are integrated. However, many all-in-one platforms still have integration issues, meaning you still have to perform some functions manually.

Down side of one-size-fits-all marketing platforms

All-in-one platforms are usually made up of technology from companies the big cloud providers acquired and then assembled into a platform.

It might have an email module you can use to send messages, but it’s not necessarily the best-of-breed service an email marketer needs to succeed.

Email marketing is more than just sending email. Does the email module give you detailed, granular reporting? Can you build messages quickly? Does it integrate with your ecommerce and customer-care databases for segmented, triggered and real-time messaging? Who helps out when something goes wrong?

An all-in-one platform takes away your choice of vendors. You end up making your decisions based on the technology the platform provides instead of being able to surround yourself with best-of-breed technologies.

Although omnichannel marketing has broken down the old silos among communication channels, we still do our work in a siloed environment. The tools you need for email marketing are different those for mobile marketing, social, SMS/texting and the web.

Getting back to best of breed

Although analysts and industry pundits had been urging companies to consolidate all of their marketing needs on a single platform, I’m seeing more marketers looking beyond the portfolio and seeking out best-of-breed technology again.

If you use an all-in-one or cloud service, see if the email function is the best email tool on the market or just bolted-on technology. Look under the hood to see if the platform offers true integration that requires no effort or hours from your IT team. Is it the best email tool you can use or just the tool that’s offered?

Email in an all-in-one platform should not be just one tool in a suite of others. It should be the tool. When you’re evaluating vendors, the buying decision should rest not on the suite as a whole but on the quality of the individual tools that make up the suite.

Your marketing landscape is not a straight line with applications scattered all along it. It is a circle with your company in the middle.

If you can’t execute a necessary function, look for a new provider. Looks for the right partnerships outside of the marketing suite. The focus is on integration timelines and scalability.

If you can conquer that, you have a winning solution.

It’s No Joke! Humor Positively Impacts Your Brain

By Tony Alessandra, Best Selling Author & Professional Keynote Speaker

True! It’s no joke. There absolutely is a connection between laughter and improved brain function. A great deal of study has been devoted to the negative things that can happen to the brain and why they happen. We know a lot about the effects of depression, fear, and anger. For some reason, the positive influences haven’t generated as much interest. But these influences are very interesting. Laughter, in fact, is not only interesting but is positively mysterious.

How does the brain know that something is funny?

Studies suggest that on this is a three-part process. A cognitive element helps you get the joke. A neuromuscular aspect helps move the muscles of the face to smile and laugh. And a third emotional element produces the enjoyable experience of laughter.

Why is laughter enjoyable?

It stimulates the production of a neurochemical called dopamine, which is also associated with many other pleasurable activities.

Jokes aside, there are Practical Benefits

All of this seems to have some very practical benefits. Tests have found evidence that humorous films and videos can diminish stress and promote relaxation. How this happens is not entirely clear. Something is definitely happening on the biological level — the production of dopamine.

But could laughter also simply distract the brain from whatever else was on its mind, so to speak? It doesn’t really matter. We’ve seen that stress weakens brain function, so whatever lowers stress will have the opposite effect. At this point, I’m tempted to tell some funny stories, but I’ll resist that temptation and say goodbye until my next blog post.


Your Own Experience Is the Hardest Teacher (But Others’ Experience Is the Easiest)

By Jason Forrest, CEO, Head Coach Forrest Performance Group

What could you accomplish if you had unlimited brainpower and several lifetimes’ worth of experience to bring to bear on solving a problem? The truth is—you do have access to such unlimited power. And it’s not some pill you’ve seen in a science fiction movie. It’s in the people you know.  An effective mastermind group of peers—high level executives from a variety of industries—can be invaluable to your business.


Merriam-Webster defines mastermind as “a person who supplies the directing or creative intelligence for a project.” Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the chance to interact with and learn from someone who could provide this kind of leadership and know-how in an area that’s not exactly your sweet spot? Multiply that level of amazing by two, three, even eight, and you’ll get a sense of what a truly incredible, game-changing resource a mastermind group can be.


A mastermind group—a concept I first learned about from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill—is a place to share ideas, learn best practices, and benefit from others’ brains, experience, and belief systems. The book calls such a group “a coordination of knowledge and effort and a spirit of harmony between two or more people for the attainment of definite purpose.”


The benefits of such coordination have been invaluable to me personally. For a number of years, I’ve been part of a nine-person mastermind group of entrepreneurs. Each of the eight others in my group has contributed valuable insight that has helped me overcome challenges, specifically in the realms of HR, marketing, and financing.


Here’s how to start a mastermind group to reap similar benefits for your own business:


  1. Assess yourself. Consider all the tasks you’re responsible for and identify a few areas where you excel and a few where your skills could be sharper.
  2. Explore your network. See who you know or could get to know who likely has a strength you’d like to develop.
  3. Assemble the team. Pitch the idea when you meet with potential mastermind colleagues. Be up front—let them know what you’re looking for, and what you bring to the table.
  4. Share the wealth. Introduce connections to one another. Get the ball rolling by finding ways to support a new colleague using your unique strengths.


You now have the makings of a mutually-beneficial mastermind group. Here are a few experience-tested pointers to keep it going strong:


  • Don’t confuse your role within your company with your role in your mastermind group. In your own company, you’re a leader and likely seen as the mastermind. In contrast, your mastermind group should consist of peers—each with valuable expertise. No one is the leader, and your role is not to manage or be managed. It is simply to share experience.


  • Think outside the industry. You won’t get really varied skill sets or transparent best-practice sharing if your mastermind group consists of a bunch of people in your own industry. Look to other fields—banking, IT, medicine, nonprofit, government, etc.—for colleagues who can help you see things in a whole new way.

Assembling a mastermind group and staying in regular contact with its members will put each member in position to thrive—both professionally and personally. This kind of mutually-beneficial group is one of the best ways to take advantage of the “work smarter, not harder” mindset.





About the Author

Jason Forrest | CEO, Head Coach Forrest Performance Group As a sales professional, author, speaker, and sales coach, Jason’s job is to empower professionals and executives to unleash their human performance and master their leadership skills in sales, management, culture and service. Jason grew up under the influence of his father (a business owner and professional salesperson), his mother, (a persuasive speaking professor), and Zig Ziglar (his Sunday school teacher and world-famous salesperson/motivational speaker). Jason learned sales by selling rather than observing. These influences and experiences shaped him into who he is today-a salesperson first, a trainer on a mission, a national speaker, and a coach who pushes sales organizations to become the best version of themselves. Every year, Jason delivers approximately 92 keynotes/seminars and conducts 850 group coaching calls with sales teams, sales managers, and executives. See him in action at


Executive Briefings: The Model of R.E.A.L. Leadership

By Thomas White for Huffington Post

In my work, I meet business leaders from all over the world who have advice, stories and personal tips to provide. I sit down with these leaders to give them the opportunity to provide current business advice and give a glimpse to their personal stories as a business leader.

This week I interviewed Joe Hart, President and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training, an organization whose founder pioneered the human performance movement over 100 years ago and has continued to succeed and grow worldwide, through constant research and innovation building on its founding principles. Dale Carnegie Training has more than 3,000 trainers and consultants, operating in 300 offices in over 90 countries impacting organizations, teams and individuals. Dale Carnegie Training’s client list includes more than 400 of the Fortune Global 500, tens of thousands of small to mid-sized organizations and over 8 million individuals across the globe.

Dale Carnegie does a lot of research in regard to leadership. What are the traits that make up a great leader?

Dale Carnegie Training initially conducted research on this subject in 2015 in the United States and Brazil. We were so intrigued with what we had found that we expanded the research to 13 additional countries. Some of the key questions we found included: what are the types of traits that really motivate someone to want to give their best and what are the things that demotivate people. From this research we have characterized these to ‘R.E.A.L.’ or reliable, empathetic, aspirational and learning.

What makes a leader Reliable?

It refers to someone who is internally reliable. Internal reliability is someone being authentic. As people, we have great intuition, and we can tell when somebody is being consistent with who they are. They are internally reliable. But with external reliability people want to sense a level of integrity. Does the leader do things that they say they are going to do or do they say one thing and then do another?

Of the four traits, this one is absolutely foundational for the other three. It doesn’t matter if you’re empathetic, aspirational, or you’re an active leader, if do not have reliability, you do not have the core trust that you are building with people. If you do not have this trust with the people you work with or who you interact with then the other traits just will not matter.

What does it mean to be Empathetic as a leader?

Being empathetic means to really want to reach out and to be others-focused. It means to demonstrate a desire to listen, to care, to recognize the importance that other people have and to really give them the respect of hearing what it is that they have to say. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” So, an empathetic person is trying to learn, trying to listen and trying to demonstrate caring for the people around them.

There’s been a transformation of how leadership has been viewed over the decades. In the past, one might expect a leader to have all the answers, to show strong leadership qualities. Today, especially when you look at the millennial generation, people want to contribute to find out the answers. They want to have meaning in their work. They want to know the work they’re doing is valuable and that they are valued as a person. Someone who comes in and simply says, “Here’s what we’re going to do and you’re going to do it,” that is an immediate dis-engager for high percentages of people.”

What does a leader need to do to be someone who is Aspirational for the people that they are working with?

Leaders tend to focus on the bottom line. The finances are important and critical to the success of any business. However, to focus on those exclusively without a broader picture is not necessarily enough to connect with a lot of people. If a leader understands that people really want to have meaning in what they do, then simply hitting financial targets may not be enough. A leader not only needs to be focused on the details but also on why we are doing this at all and why what we are doing is important.

The financial parts and having targets are all important, but at the same time, to have something broader and something we can connect to that makes us feel like, “Yes, I’m really a part of something bigger and important, and I can go home and feel really good about that.”

How critical is it for a leader to also be a Learner?
It is very critical. Being a learner connects with empathetic in the sense that the learner says “I don’t have all of the answers”. The learner recognizes that mistakes are going to happen and they learn from that. They don’t necessarily like it but, they will embrace it and they won’t hesitate if they’ve made a mistake, to admit it, to address it and to move on. It’s about taking action. It’s about making mistakes. It’s about experience and judgement.



10 Sales Tips for Asking More Effective Questions

By: Dr.  Tony Alessandra

What is the #1 rule in sales? Ask more questions! Sometimes the most knowledgeable expert is the most likely to fall into the trap of talking too much. Remember to slow down and let your prospective client do most of the talking. Study after study tells us that the most effective sales tips a trainer or manager can reinforce involve asking a lot of questions. Hall-of-fame keynote speaker on the subjects of sales and customer service, Dr. Tony Alessandra, shares his top 10 sales tips for asking more effective questions…


1) Ask permission.

In some situations, it’s understood that you’re there to gather information. In other situations, it’s appropriate to show respect by asking permission to ask questions.

Example question: “May I ask you some questions about your business?”

This may be a rhetorical question, but it’s worth asking anyway.

2) Start broad, and then get specific.

Broad, open-ended sales questions are a good way to start gathering information. They put your prospect at ease because they allow any type of response.

Example question: “Could you tell me about your business?”

This is a non-threatening way to begin. Listen to what your prospect says and what she omits. Both will suggest areas to explore in greater depth, such as, “Could you tell me more about how absenteeism impacts your bottom line?”


3) Build on previous responses.

Any good interviewer knows that the most logical source of questions comes from the interviewee’s responses. Dovetail your questions with the responses by listening for key words.

Example question roleplay:

[Prospect] “I own six flower shops that specialize in large event decorating.”  

[Salesperson] “You specialize in large events. Why did you choose that niche?”

[Prospect] “Lower overhead. I can work out of a warehouse rather than a storefront. I don’t have to maintain perishable stock; I order in large quantities only when needed, which keeps my prices down.”

[Salesperson] “What do you mean by large events? How would you define that? What are the minimum orders?”


4) Use the prospect’s industry jargon, if appropriate.

If you’re talking to an expert, show your expertise by sounding as if you’ve spent your whole life in his industry. If you’re talking to a neophyte, don’t embarrass him with your technical jargon. This is especially true in retail sales in which customers look to salespeople for guidance, not confusion.

Every field has its own jargon, and you may be an expert in yours; however, your prospect may not be as well versed as you. Avoid questions that will confuse your prospect or worse, make him feel inferior.

Example question not to ask“Was the baud rate of your present system satisfactory?”

Example question to ask:  “Were your telephone transmissions of data fast enough?”


5) Keep questions simple.

If you want useful answers, ask useful questions. Convoluted or two-part questions should be avoided. Ask straightforward questions that cover one topic at a time. It’s best to ask for one answer at a time.

Example question not to ask: “What do you think about the marketing plan and will the new ad campaign confuse customers and would that confusion actually be beneficial to the long-term product growth?”

This will not produce a meaningful answer. If you ask a two-part question, people tend to either answer the second part only or only the part they were interested in or felt safe with. One question at a time!

6) Use a logical sequence for your questions.

Prospects like to know where your questions are headed. If they can’t tell, they may suspect you’re manipulating them. By following keywords and asking sales questions in a logical order, you will keep your intent clear and build trust.

7) Keep questions non-threatening.

Start off safe, general, and non-threatening. That means asking open-ended questions that don’t touch on sensitive subjects. Later, after you have built up trust — and when it is appropriate — you can ask about financial ability, business stability, credit rating … anything relevant.

Example questions: Here’s a post that highlights seven questions one sales rep uses to ask more intense questions in a light and friendly manner. 


8) If a question is sensitive, explain its relevance.

It makes sense to justify a sensitive question to your prospect. After all, she has a right to know why you are asking.

Example questions: Here’s a post on how to ask sensitive sales questions without upsetting your prospects.


9) Focus on desired benefits.

Many prospects will not know all the benefits of your product or service. Therefore, don’t ask them what benefits they are looking for; tell them what benefits will be theirs! When you ask them what they want, have them generalize about the improvements they would like to see.

10) Maintain a consultative attitude.

Remember, you’re a liaison between your company and your customers; you are a consultant. As such, you want to question your prospect in a way that will yield the maximum amount of information with the least effort. To do so, take the pressure off the questions. Ask them in a relaxed tone of voice. Give time for the answers, even if it means sitting quietly and waiting. Don’t be in a hurry to get to your next appointment. The investment you make in time now will pay off handsomely when the prospect evolves into an annuity.



Dr. Tony Alessandra has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having been raised in the housing projects of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing, internet entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker. He earned a BBA from Notre Dame, a MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing from Georgia State University (1976).

Known as “Dr. Tony” he’s authored 30+ books and 100+ audio/video programs. He was inducted into the NSA Speakers Hall of Fame (1985) and Top Sales World’s Hall of Fame(2010).  Meetings & Conventions Magazine has called him “one of America’s most electrifying speakers”.


Dr. Tony is also the Founder/CVO of  Assessments 24×7.  Assessments 24×7 is a global leader of online DISC assessments, delivered from easy-to-use online accounts popular with business coaches and Fortune 500 trainers around the world.  Interested in learning more about these customized assessment accounts? Please CONTACT US.